With Formula 1’s month-long summer break coming to an end (which saw me play way too much F1 2016 to fill the void), let’s recap the season so far, and make some predictions for the final nine races.
- Nico Rosberg won the first four races of the season in an effort to dethrone his teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
- American newcomers Haas F1 Team got off to a dream start, with Romain Grosjean placing P6 and P5 in the first two races in team history. (USA! USA!)
- After a disastrous Sochi GP for Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull demoted the Russian, and promoted 18-year old Max Verstappen from their B-team, Toro Rosso.
- After the two Mercedes’ crashed on lap 1, Max Verstappen won in his first race with Red Bull, becoming the youngest GP winner in F1 history.
- Daniel Ricciardo was on pace to win the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix, but after an error on pit road, he fell to P2 and Lewis Hamilton grabbed his first win of the season.
- I have to make a comment on this one, cause this was pretty fucking bad. Daniel Ricciardo was leading this race by a mile. And mind you, the Monaco Grand Prix is by far the most sought-after win on the F1 calendar. It’s the Super Bowl of Formula 1. But, when Ricciardo came into the pits for his one and only pit stop, THE TEAM DIDN’T HAVE THE TIRES READY. YOU HAD ONE JOB. Whether it was an issue in communication or strategy, his pit stop took an extra 10+ seconds, and Ricciardo was straight up robbed of the biggest win of his career. Considering Ricciardo is one of my favorite drivers, and I’m sick and tired of Mercedes winning all the time, this messed me up for a few days… Rant over.
- Hamilton won the very next race in Montreal, but Rosberg answered by winning the inaugural European GP at Baku, Azerbaijan.
- Hamilton then went on a four race winning streak of his own (including another incident with Nico Rosberg, which was definitely Nico’s fault), putting himself 1st in the drivers standings.
TLDR; Mercedes dominates the first four races… boring. Verstappen somehow wins in Spain… crazy. Ricciardo is robbed of a win at Monaco… crazy. Mercedes dominates again… boring.
- Each Red Bull driver wins a race: Red Bull are coming on strong this season, challenging Ferrari for 2nd fastest team on the grid. That being said (and considering they SHOULD have two wins at this point), I think they’ll win two more before the end of the season.
- Vettel wins a race: Speaking of drivers who should have won, Sebastian Vettel arguably had two wins go down the drain; one due to an engine failure, and one due to a terrible strategy call by Ferrari. Either way, it’s hard for me to picture a season where Vettel doesn’t win a race.
- McLaren gets a podium: I’ll warn you, this is very biased. Yes, McLaren are my favorite team, but you can’t deny that they’re making progress. After being a back-marker last season, they’re consistently finishing in the points. Even rookie reserve-driver Stoffel Vandoorne finished P10 in his only race after replacing an injured Fernando Alonso. That being said, if we get a wet race with a decent amount of retirements, Alonso or Jenson Button could find themselves in P3… I can dream, alright?
- Hamilton and Rosberg will have another on-track incident: It’s happened three times in the past season and a half, and with the way these two race each other, it’s not hard to predict it could happen again. But, if it happens, this would be the most pivotal one yet. Hamilton is only 19 points clear of Rosberg atop the standings, so another incident could influence the winner of the World Championship.
- Mercedes wins the Constructors Championship: This is barely even a prediction, but I’ll throw it in there to satisfy all the Merc fanboys.
- Drivers Championship top 3; Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen: With the way Hamilton has been driving recently, I don’t see Rosberg closing the gap. The real stretch here is putting Verstappen 3rd, but I think it could happen. He’s 6th right now, but only 18 points separate positions 3-6, so anyone in that group (Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel, Verstappen) could finish 3rd. But, considering Verstappen has himself in that group after spending the first four races with a non-competitive team, I think he’ll be the one to prevail.
I might actually start live-tweeting races. Follow me so I feel a little less lonely. (@ryanhilsinger).